Nope, I'm not talking about grading the Race to the Top (RTT) winners. Frankly, I don't have much confidence in the elaborate scoring system that the Department of Education jury-rigged--especially not after Ohio, Hawaii, and New York finished in the money while Louisiana and Colorado were ludicrously left out in the cold. As if my skeptical natured needed more cause for worry after the post hoc "norming" of i3 grades and the concerns raised regarding judge selection and training, blatant disregard for application guidelines, and emphasis on airy promises rather than concrete actions already taken. And, given the number of ...


The answer: New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York City, Denver, and Jacksonville. The question: Which cities are in the mix when it comes to being the "Silicon Valley" of K-12 schooling? Or, more simply: If you're a problem-solver with some successes under your belt, where will you be most welcome? Cities rounding out the top ten include Charlotte, Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, and San Francisco. What's all this about? Check out my new study, America's Best (and Worst) Cities for School Reform: Attracting Entrepreneurs and Change Agents, coauthored with the talented Stafford Palmieri and Janie Scull and published today ...


I spent the tail end of last week out in Portland, Oregon, at the Education Commission of the States annual confab. ECS honcho Roger Sampson quarterbacked an impressive gathering, chock full of state chiefs and key legislators. The chiefs in attendance were buzzing that the Department of Ed was sending word on Friday that governors should expect calls tomorrow morning from Duncan regarding round two Race to the Top (RTT) results (unless ED reprises its not-so-smooth i3 goof and accidentally posts the winners on TMZ this afternoon). On Friday, I had the chance to do a panel on state-federal dynamics ...


Yesterday, I discussed our earnest Secretary of Education's unfortunate proclivity for quick fixes that promise to worsen the budgetary hole districts are in. But that's not all. In the same briefing where he made it clear that he's not a big believer in planning ahead, Duncan also made the fantastical claim, to USA Today's Greg Toppo, that, "The vast majority of districts around the country have literally been cutting for five, six, seven years in a row. And, many of them, you know, are through, you know, fat, through flesh, and into bone." Duncan added, "We want people to be ...


I'm a simple guy. I admit it. Maybe that's why I'm so fond of the first rule of holes. You know: "When you're in one, stop digging." But that's not the way our earnest Secretary of Education likes to do things. Scott Pattison, the executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, says, "There are so many issues that go way beyond the current downturn...This is an awful time for states fiscally, but they're even more worried about 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014." Lydia Ramos, spokeswoman for L.A. Unified, says, "You've got this herculean task to deal ...


It's been six months since I first stuck a toe into the blogosphere. At a minimum, that got pals like Alexander Russo, Andy Rotherham, Sara Mead, Kevin Carey, and Mike Petrilli to stop ridiculing me for being behind the times (though they're now telling me my posts are too long, too removed from the blog v. blog fray, and insufficiently linky. Sometimes, you just can't win...). Anyway, as I told former Ed Week honcho Caroline Hendrie when she suggested that I try my hand at blogging, I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I had a notion of wanting ...


On Sunday, the L.A. Times ran its controversial analysis of teacher value-added scores in L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD). The paper used seven years of reading and math scores to calculate performance for individual teachers who've taught grades three through five, and plans to publish the effectiveness ratings with the teacher's names. The actual analysis was handled for the paper by RAND analyst Richard Buddin. If you want to get quickly up to speed on this, check out Joanne Jacobs' stellar summary here and Stephen Sawchuck's take here. The story has triggered an avalanche of comment, including cheers ...


I thought I'd been pretty clear about my view of the Edujobs bill, but a flurry of interviews last week made it plain that reporters had trouble believing that I really thought the $10 billion Edujobs bill was flat-out bad for K-12 schooling. So, I want to be crystal clear. I think that Edujobs was not just wasteful but was positively harmful. And, yes, I think this even though ED promised to streamline its normal processes so that states will "receive funding as quickly as possible" and whipped up some calculations touting the number of jobs it's claiming to save ...


I was struck recently by the degree to which we're having two distinct, contrary conversations about technology and schooling. I was up in Boston last week for a three-day symposium on "Personalized Learning" (hosted by the Software & Information Industry Association, ASCD, and CCSSO) and felt like I was witness to two completely unrelated visions of education technology. The romanticist camp traces its roots to Rousseau's Emile and its radical "progressive" vision of the unchained learner. This stance, voiced by so many educational administrators and pedagogues talking of the "tyranny of testing," celebrates the need to let "imagination blossom" and recoils ...


For the past year, our earnest Secretary of Education has been banging the drum for mayoral control. As I've noted many times, I'm very sympathetic to the argument that mayoral control, done smart, can be a useful step in turning around troubled school systems. But I've been concerned about the tendency to romanticize its promise and to overlook its potential problems--especially the likelihood that mayoral control will limit access to independent metrics and performance data. Over at Flypaper, my good pal Mike Petrilli voiced some second thoughts about mayoral control earlier this week after reading a WaPo column from a ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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